494 8th Avenue #1704
New York, NY 10001, USA
(212)944-9420 (212)944-9420


immigrant female nurse

We Handle all aspects of assisting registered nurses to practice their profesion in the USA


The nursing crisis in the United States offers an opportunity for foreign registered nurses to have a viable career in the U.S. and a route to become immigrants in the U.S. or to have a temporary grant of employment which may be thereafter converted into permanent residence.


Registered nurses are exempt from having to obtain a labor certification, which puts them on a fast track for permanent residence. This profession has been precertified by the Department of Labor because there are not sufficient Americans who are able, willing, qualified and available. A professional nurse may have less than a baccalaureate degree in nursing as long as the nurse has completed a program for professional nurses in his/her country, Canada or the U.S.

Registered nurses as opposed to licensed nurses or practical nurses qualify for the 3rd employment preference if they have had at least 2 years of nursing studies after high school or secondary school and have a nursing license issued by their country and either a certificate from the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS), or a full and unrestricted license to practice professional nursing in the state intended for employment

The CGFNS exam is given several times each year at more than 50 exam locations in the U.S. and worldwide. For information about the CGFNS, the telephone number is 215-349-8767.

Before an immigrant visa or adjustment of status is granted, the Visa Screen Certificate or a certified statement must be obtained from the International Commission on Healthcare Professions (ICHP), a part of the CGFNS.

nurse holding hand


Professional nurses must pass all 3 sections of the Test of English as a Foreign Language

(TOEFL), or the Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB), to prove English proficiency. An equivalency evaluation of the nursing credentials such as transcripts of school records, diplomas and licenses is made by ICHP. The Visa Screen Certificate verifies that the applicant has the education, training, license and experience equivalent to American registered nurses; that the documents demonstrated are authentic and unencumbered, and that the applicant is fluent in English and has an appropriate professional license.

In lieu of the Visa Screen Certificate for nurses who completed their nursing education in English that includes Australia, Canada (except Quebec), South Africa, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the U.S., a certified statement may be issued by CGFNS. Starting on July 1, 2002, nurses from Trinidad and Tobago have been granted provisional eligibility for 15 months to apply for the certified statement in place of the Visa Screen Certificate. For the certified statement to be released, the prospective nurse must be licensed in the state of intended employment and shall have passed the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). Each state will establish that the prospective nurse has an authentic and unencumbered foreign license. Within 35 days after receipt of an application, CGFNS must issue the certified statement.


A temporary license may be issued after the prospective nurse enters the U.S. and registers to take the NCLEX test for permanent licensing. After the nurse arrives in the U.S., and/or obtains permanent residence, an application for NCLEX must be filed immediately and the test must be taken within 30 days of registering. In most states, the temporary permit is issued when the application is filed. Some states do not have temporary licenses. Each state must be checked for its particular licensing requirements. Some states require all foreign nurses to pass the CGFNS; other states require the NCLEX. In all cases, the nurse must address the licensing requirements of the State of intended employment, which usually encompasses passing the NCLEX exam.


In addition to the 3rd preference, if the nurse is an outstanding professor or researcher, or a professional with an advanced degree such as a Masters Degree or a baccalaureate with at least 5 years of progressive employment in the field, a 2nd preference may be obtained. Or if the prospective nurse can demonstrate exceptional ability that will substantially benefit prospectively the national economy, cultural or educational interests or welfare of the U.S., a 2nd preference may be also secured.

This second preference may be worth applying for, if applicable, for nationals of countries such as China or India where the 3rd preference employment categorys priority date is not current. As soon as the preference is approved for nationals of all other countries, the 3rd preference approval will allow an immediate application for permanent residence.


A priority date is set when the petition is filed with the INS regional service center. In the event the employer is changed, the priority date stays with the nurse. If the nurse changes the employer and secures another employer, the original priority date remains in place for the nurse.


visa application paperworkThe H-1C is a limited visa, restricted nationally to only 500 applicants for nurses to work in hospitals where there is a health professional shortage. The nurse must be a registered nurse, fully qualified to practice immediately upon arrival in the U.S., and have already passed the CGFNS. An employer attestation is required that the hospital since 1994 has had a health professional shortage, has no fewer than 190 licensed acute care beds, at least 35% of its patients are entitled

to medicare, and at least 28% are entitled to medicaid. The hospital must also attest that it is taking steps to recruit U.S. citizens or permanent residents, that the nurse will be paid the same rate as other nurses, and that the employment of the prospective nurse will not adversely affect wages and working conditions of nurses similarly employed.

If you would like additional information or if you wish to consult with us or desire assistance, please call us at 212-944-9420 and ask for William Oltarsh or Jennifer Oltarsh, or send us a fax at 212-944-9120, or e-mail us at info@oltarsh.com.


If a prospective nurse applies for a student visa, it should be remembered that to obtain a student visa, the prospective student must demonstrate to a U.S. Consul, or if in the U.S., then to the Immigration Service that he/she has a residence in a foreign country which he/she has no intention of abandoning, who is a bona fide student, intending to pursue a full course of study, and who seeks to enter the U.S. temporarily to pursue such a course in nursing at a university, or institute that is accredited to the Immigration Service.

Schools are authorized by the Immigration Service to issue Certificates of Eligibility (Form I-20). Form I-20AB (academic) is used for F-1 students; Form I-20MN (vocational) is for M-1 students. The I-20 certifies that the student has been accepted to an accredited school. Evidence must be adduced of financial ability to support oneself during the course of study as well.

Students are admitted for the duration of status, that is the period required to complete the program of study plus any authorized period of post-completion practical training plus a 60 day grace period for F-1 students. A period for practical training is customarily granted for up to one year. For the M-1 student, a grace period is allowed of only 30 days. The M-1 student is normally also granted a duration of stay for the period needed to complete the course of study.

The M-1 student may be granted one month of training for every four months, not to exceed six months in total. The F-1 student, provided the course of study has lasted at least one year, may obtain practical training for up to one year.

USCIS regulations are constantly changing prospective students may wish to consult with a lawyer regarding their long term goals. We would be glad to hear from you about any questions you may have. Call us at 212-944-9420, or at our e-mail: info@oltarsh.com. If you want to make an appointment to consult with us, our office address is: 494 Eight Avenue, suite 1704, New York, NY, 10001 Ask for William Oltarsh or Jennifer Oltarsh.

Our assistance is only a phone call, or e-mail communication away!

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